IT downturn looms, says IDC

Based partly on economic forecasts in the first half of 2001, IDC expects the European IT market to show double-digit growth throughout this year.

A slight slowdown in economic growth across the region was not expected to have a significant impact on IT spending because of regional market dynamics. However, spending in some segments of the European IT hardware market has clearly tempered, including weaker demand from service providers for networking equipment and a slowing growth rate for PC sales.

“Software and services are still expected to show strong growth this year,” said Stephen Minton, manager of IDC’s Global IT Economic Outlook research programme and the European IT Markets Centre. “We expect that any economic slowdown would have its most severe impact on hardware demand.

Historically, hardware spending is highly vulnerable to swings in the overall economy.”

Currently, IDC forecasts 11% growth for IT spending in Western Europe this year. A worst-case scenario for Europe would see total IT spending grow only 7.9%. Moreover, this slowdown would be likely to continue into 2002 and potentially into 2003 as the European economy struggles to maintain growth while controlling inflation. Countries most at risk include Germany and Italy, with the UK expected to be more stable.

“For European suppliers, understanding the broad economic picture has never been more important. Events in the US have dispelled the myth that technology spending is immune to an economic slowdown,” Minton said.

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